2019 Spring Term 1

The know zone

  • Contextual safeguarding
    ASCL Parliamentary and Inclusion Specialist Anna Cole details a new framework set to transform the way professionals approach safeguarding young people. More
  • Framework focus
    Response to the broad direction of change for Ofsted inspections has been positive but it will take time to develop curriculum and assessment expertise, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Be prepared
    Incidents of cyber fraud are on the rise and schools and colleges are not immune to this type of crime. Here ASCL Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights steps leaders and their staff can take to mitigate the risks. More
  • Retirement planning tips
    Whatever stage of life you're at, now is a good time to check whether you are on track to enjoy a comfortable retirement, says Managing Director of Lighthouse Financial Advice Ltd Lee Barnard. More
  • Time out
    The use of isolation rooms/booths in schools has featured in the media recently. What are your views? Do they work? Do you use them in your school? Here, ASCL members share their views. More
  • We're here for you
    ASCL Hotline Leader Rachel Bertenshaw provides an overview of our dedicated Hotline service available to members all year around. More
  • FYI: TLA's are our USP...
    FTU (For the uninitiated), the headline is suggesting that the teaching profession is revelling in its usage of three-letter acronyms, AKA TLAs. Carl Smith wonders if this trend has yet to go OTT or if we should desist PDQ. More
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FTU (For the uninitiated), the headline is suggesting that the teaching profession is revelling in its usage of three-letter acronyms, AKA TLAs. Carl Smith wonders if this trend has yet to go OTT or if we should desist PDQ.

FYI: TLA's are our USP...

Have you made any NYRs (New Year Resolutions) this year? Have you decided to introduce NMM (No More Marking) or CYCs (Compulsory Yoga Classes) in order to DYS (De-Stress Your Staff)? Or are you just feeling THO (Thoroughly Hacked Off)?

Schools are full of TLAs (three-letter acronyms). They make us sound more business-like and professional. They give us a secret language, a masonic-like mystique and chance to fool governors. If you need to ask, you’re not really ITK (don’t ask). 

But aren’t teachers supposed to be masters of making complicated ideas simple to understand? Aren’t we the world’s experts at explaining photosynthesis to four-year-olds or fronted adverbials to those under six? 

Surely our expertise is the three Es (elucidating, expounding and explicating) or the more commonly cited three Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, perhaps the worst in the history of acronyms).

Why do we FTN (Feel the Need) to reduce our world to a TOL (trio of letters)? Why, for that matter, did the DCSF become the DfE? Was the fourth letter an example of an over-bloated education sector that needed putting in its place? Or did we just need to save time and, if so, what have we been doing with all that extra time that we’ve gained? Making up more three-letter acronyms probably. 

Is it just that we CBA to write out the full words? Is it another victim of the workload crisis? Should we blame texting, mobiles and the WWW (that’s the World Wide Web not What Went Well)? Not so, I’m afraid, because three-letter acronyms actually existed long before the information age and they’ll probably exist long after it – if, indeed, we exist at all. Maybe the C of E has the answer?

Chord, trinity, triangle 

There’s something musical about three letters; the third letter acts as a resolution to the other two. It’s a chord, a trinity or a triangle (any more examples wouldn’t sound right). We even name our schools as acronyms; mine’s CCR by the way (BtW). 

The third letter confers a stately grandeur that two letters just can’t match. They reach out to our soul, our humanity and even the very MOL (Meaning of Life). 

Which leads me to the biggest question of all: why did ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders) replace SHA (Secondary Heads Association)? Could we not have simply morphed the S from ‘secondary’ to ‘school’ and changed the H (as in heads) into an L (as in leaders)? 

Would SLA be better than ASCL, two syllables rather than one? But what about the colleges, I hear you cry. OK, well what about the ELA (Education Leaders’ Association) or even the Association of Education Leaders (AEL)? Or am I just part of the BAS (Bloody Awkward Squad)? Perhaps.

Want the last word?

Last Word always welcomes contributions from members. If you’d like to share your humorous observations of school life, email Permjit Mann at leader@ascl.org.uk ASCL offers a modest honorarium.

Carl Smith is the Principal at Casterton College Rutland (CCR)